Do It Yourself: How To Build Stairs

A step-by-step guide to building your own stairs.

If you have stairs that are old and worn, or you just want a new set; you can build them. You have a choice of either a stand alone set to get into your house, camper, or hot tub or a set that is attached to your deck or porch. Either type is an excellent choice and very simple to assemble.

Tools needed:

* tape measure

* electric saw

* electric drill with screwdriver attachment

* straight edge (ruler or T-Square)

* lead pencil

Materials required:

* Treated stringers

* 1x6 treated boards (at least 6 feet for each step)

* two treated 2x4's

* two treated 4x4's either carved or plain, (optional)

* box of galvanized, treated, or coated screws 2 inches long

* extra treated 2x4's, either plain or carved (optional)

First measure the distance from the ground to the door, top of your hot tub, or top of the deck or porch. Then determine the slope you want on your stairs. Do not make it too steep or you will get winded climbing them or you may hurt yourself going down. If the stringers you purchase are too long, you may reduce the slope or cut them off. If they are too short, it just won't work. Remember, however, before cutting anything MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE.

Now you are ready to go to the hardware store.

Purchase treated stringers, which come in four, five or seven step varieties. The four or five step stringer is a good all-purpose choice, while the seven-step variety is best if you have a long distance to travel. Then purchase 1x6 treated boards for the steps, the 2x4's for support and two 4x4's, either plain or carved, for the uprights if you are making a stand-alone stair. Make sure that all of your wood is treated, if not it will weaken with age (usually in a few months) and become unstable and dangerous.

When you get home, assemble all of your materials and equipment in one central location so you won't have to go running all around to find it.

Begin by placing your stringers 36 inches apart, this will make each step 36 inches wide. Measure the distance from a point three inches down from the top of the left-hand stringer to a point three inches up from bottom of the right hand stringer. Cut one 2x4 to that measurement. Then measure the distance from a point three inches down from the top of the right hand stringer to a point three inches up from bottom of the left hand stringer. Cut the other 2x4 to that measurement. Attach the two 2x4's in a cross pattern, just to the inside of the stringers. Be sure not to interfere with the steps. Use galvanized, coated or treated screws for all attachments, as they are much easier to work with than nails.

Attach the stringers to either the porch or the uprights.

Place one 1x6 across your stringers to test fit the steps. Mark the ends. Use one more 1x6 to verify that two will make the proper width step, mark it. Then cut along your lines.

Replace the steps on the stringers and screw them to the stringer. Start at the bottom, then go to the top and then fill in the center steps. If you are building a stand-alone stair, carefully make a notch to fit around the upright.

Stabilize stand-alone stairs by attaching 2x4's vertically to the back of the uprights. Three evenly spaced should be enough. This makes the unit firm and portable.

To add a railing to your stairs, evenly space 36 inch treated 2x4's (either plain or carved) upright at either end of each step, centered back to front. Screw them in place. Then place a plain, treated, 2x4 atop these as a banister, (it will slope) and screw that in at an angle to attach.

You may either stain or paint your stairs, or leave them natural. Either way, you will have a nice set of stairs that will last you for a very long time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011